Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Christmas 2014.

So, we Flores are kind of different in that Christmas day—not a big deal for us. The magic really happens on Christmas Eve or Nochebuena. It seems to have always been that way, and I'm really just fine with that. We have the missionaries over and Bro Miller (who my father home taught for years) and we open presents on Christmas Eve night. Christmas kind of ends up being just like any normal day...

This Christmas, my Uncle Jr invited us over to his house for dinner. My Aunt Tricia is German, as in her parents are really from Germany, and she was going to make German food for Christmas dinner. We sandwiched our visit with trips to the cinema. In the morning we saw Into the Woods (Unbroken for the boys) and then at night saw The Imitation Game (I highly recommend it!). 
^^Our delicious German Christmas dinner. Roast beef (that had been marinated for THREE DAYS!), red cabbage, gravy, & some kind of special noodles. I wish I knew the names of all these dishes, but sadly I've got no ounce of German blood in me.
^^We took advantage of the occasion and took family photos. Most likely the last family photos before my brother Devin leaves on his mission to Chile!
^^ Cousins Jesse & Sammy decided to become part of the family too.
^^My new favorite photo of my parents.
^^We played monopoly after dinner. It got REAL. There were alliances forming and my dad was bringing in major inflation to the game. Uncle Job had to restore order by reading the instructions to us.

The day after Christmas, we took a family trip to the visitor's center at the Los Angeles Temple to see the lights and hear the music from the nightly Christmas program. It was a nice way to bid farewell to the Christmas season.
^^A México inspired Christmas tree at the visitor center.
^^We kind of fell in love with taking our pictures facing this way instead of in front of the Cristus. 
^^It's just real nice to see palm trees decorated with Christmas lights. Real nice. 

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Las Posadas

With intense law school finals going on I didn't have much time to plan all that I wanted to do while home for Christmas break, but between text message conversations with my mejor amiga and listening to episodes of LatinoUSA, I knew some part of my break would have to qualify as "super mexican." 

Daniela and I use the phrase, "let's be super Mexican" when we want to do something that puts us in touch with our Latino roots. This time around we both agreed that going to Placita Olvera for Las Posadas would be perfect. 

Las Posadas,  posadas in Spanish means "lodging", is a Mexican tradition where neighborhood families get together for a series of nine nights and reenact Mary & Joseph's seeking shelter in an inn. At Placita Olvera the procession is reenacted with the different shops serving as homes. It was something special to be gathered with a group of people with mariachi helping us to sing the familiar tunes of Las Posadas. It's a tradition I want to try and continue.

I love my culture and all its beautiful traditions.

^^A churro sundae! How delicious does that look? I had a churro stuffed with lechera that was too good for words.
You know your mejor amiga is part of the family when she takes a bite out of your mom's tamale de elote.
^^This nativity scene in the middle of the plaza made me feel like I was in Mexico again!
^^Daniela was searching for the perfect gift for her nephews. She tried a grab bag, but was disappointed with its contents. Instead, she went with cascarones, eggs filled with confetti. I think her nephews hit the jackpot.
^^They served free pan dulce & champurado after the reenactment!

Friday, December 26, 2014

How serving a Mission prepared me for law school.

It's Christmas break and I'm posting about Law School...
It's because I'm in one of my pensive moods. 
On the mission, I would have to explain to my companions that there were (are) some days when I'm quieter than most, and it's not because I'm angry in any kind of way, but because I escape into my thoughts. I reflect on everything and anything all at once. Think of it as intense versions of daydreams.
Today is one of those days. 

I have never enjoyed school more than I have this semester. I don't know if it's simply because I love everything about law school: love everything about what I'm learning, love the people I'm in school with, love my professors and their witty and intelligent personalities... Or if it's something else, if it's because this semester I really tried to live a balanced life. Something tells me it's a mixture of all those things. I have spent more hours in the library this semester than all of my undergrad years combined, and I've been happy to do so!

During the last months of my mission I started making a list of the things I wanted to be staples in my life this time around. On my mission we learned about "altars of sacrifice" we would ask Heavenly Father for help with certain missionary-esque things like finding new investigators, helping our investigators progress, getting people to church, etc. In order to demonstrate our willingness we would sacrifice by abstaining from certain things or putting in even more effort into the work. 

This mission practice inspired me for law school, and I thought long and hard about things that I wanted to do this semester to live a balanced life and put the Lord first. I present to you my

Law School Altar of Sacrifice Fall Semester 2014.
- Temple once a week
- Family Home Evening every Monday
- Attend Tuesday devotionals
- Institute every week
- Daily scripture study
- 100% visiting teaching
- No gossiping/backbiting
- No HW on Sunday
- No social media on Sunday (minus Pinterest & updating my blog)

This way of living combined with my love of law school made all the difference. & on top of the blessings that you would expect coming from doing these kinds of things, there were hidden blessings too. I ran into friends I hadn't seen in a while almost every time I went to the temple. Tuesdays became "Texas Houston East Tuesdays" as I watched devotionals with some of my closest Elderen friends and those I admired most from my days as a missionary. I became better friends with Ana from my law school class because of Institute. I felt like I was a missionary again every time I visit taught with my roommate Angela as my companion. & on Sundays instead of worrying about homework I had the time to visit the families of companions and have fun dinner parties with law school friends. The biggest blessing by far is that these once "goals" have now become habits. 

The last week of classes this semester I read a message by Elder Hallstrom titled "Seeking a Balanced Life." I loved it so much that I shared this passage with the members of my ward council & now with you!

"As sincere followers of Christ, we must constantly evaluate what is most important...Do we need to simplify our lives to keep all that truly matters in proper motion? How can each of us know if our life is out of balance? Well, most of us just know. We simply need to admit it and exercise the discipline to change, substituting higher values and better habits for those we have been living. We need to follow the counsel of our prophets to do it now before any further damage is caused by our lack of attention to other indispensable parts of life."

I have such a testimony that I served my mission exactly when I needed to, and I know that without it this first semester of law school would have been draining and almost unbearable. There were weeks where I didn't live up to my commitments 100% and the change was noticeable. I'm so grateful for my mission and how it continues to bless my life. It is one of the best things that has happened to me thus far. 

& now for pictures.
(I know this picture is horribly blurry, but in a way it's makes it rather endearing to me)
Contracts class with Professor Jennejohn. One of my classmates matched with him three class periods in a row. It became a standing joke, so on the last day of class some of us decided to dress up just like him. Collared shirts with pullover sweaters are his staple.
A trip to In&Out immediately after our contracts final. These people are my people!
Laura & Jacqueline wrote outlines for the first two sections of Torts during one of our study sessions. Believe me, this is only a small sliver of a portion of all we had to know.
Saturday study group sessions were a little more bearable because of the treats Laura would supply. Like these donuts from the time we took a three hour practice Contracts exam. 

Only 5 more semesters of law school to go! :)

Monday, December 1, 2014


This is Ivette (formerly known as Hna Morales).

She was my companion when I first got to Baytown. I was her second companion ever.

(Us at the Houston temple)
(With one of our favorite families—The Hernandez)
Ivette & I were only companions for a transfer, but in those six weeks we formed such a close bond!
One of my most cherished memories about being companions with Ivette is that some mornings I'd walk to my study desk and find my study notebook looking like this
She also hid notes in my Preach My Gospel, my planners, my scriptures—anywhere really. I found them throughout the rest of my mission and even after I had come home! I wouldn't be surprised if I found one tucked away somewhere five years from now. I loved them so much; I collected them and put them in this envelope. 
I re-discovered the envelope when I was cleaning out my mission boxes at home and laughed while I read some of them. At the time we had made a commitment to use "dignified language" meaning we couldn't use any form of slang words, so I would find post-it notes that said I was the "bees knees!"
She's the cutest!

Ivette came home this past week, and while I didn't make it to the airport, we did go to the temple on Saturday & out to breakfast. 
Ivette was also a fan of selfies—and still is
exhibit A.
(post temple & post homecoming)
I'm so glad my Chiquitita is home! :)
& I'm beyond grateful that Heavenly Father saw it fit in his infinite plan to make us companions.
Latinas de Baytown for life!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Thanksgiving in Utah.

I made the executive (but hard!) decision to not go home for Thanksgiving break this year. I know though that this will make Christmas break that much sweeter. I haven't spent a Thanksgiving in Utah since I was in middle school! & It was my first Thanksgiving with my Tia's side of the family. :)

I was dreading that there would be snow and was bracing myself for a snowpocalypse, but thankfully we were blessed with weather in the 50s! It was almost like being home for the Holiday. Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday because it's about the simple joys in life: my family, food, and the joys of living the gospel. :)

I started my Thanksgiving bright and early at 4:30am (the LatinoUSA podcast kept me company) so I could drive to Sandy, UT and meet up with my Primo and his wife to run the Utah Human Race. Turkey trots and the like became established Flores Family thanksgiving traditions back in 2010 & so when my Primo invited me to run the race I jumped at the opportunity!
Post race we had a delicious breakfast of Trader Joe gingerbread pancakes and pumpkin waffles with eggs. & then drove down to my Tia's for Thanksgiving dinner.
^^Chico dresses up for every holiday apparently!
^^ Homemade rolls. :)

^^My Tia asked if I would bring a jello. When I was in high school I made a jello-pretzel dessert for Thanksgiving off of a recipe I had found in an issue of Seventeen Magazine. The recipe was apparently Hilary Duff's mom's recipe. Unfortunately, I got rid of all my magazines without saving the recipe. I found this version of it online, & it was a hit! Guess Paula Deen is just as good of a cook as Hilary Duff's mom. :)
^^Playing Spot it. Sis. Burton recommended it to my Tia and I'm so glad she did! It's one of my favorites. 
^^Sweet Sari kept asking me, "¿aquí?" (here?) as she placed the nativity figurines in place. It was one of my favorite things to play with her.

Hope your Thanksgiving was lovely!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

BYU Lu'au 2014: Legends of Polynesia

When I was in high school, one of my close friends from my stake, Niva Tuala, told me about this program called SOAR. The summer after my junior year of high school I came to Provo for a week and did an ACT prep course with BYU's Multicultural Student Services. (I loved the experience so much that my mom and I tell everyone we can about it! This summer we got someone from our stake to come!) & Once I got in to BYU, I was even more blessed to get a full tuition scholarship through them. There were conditions of course, like participating in their cultural celebrations. Since Freshman year of undergrad, I've been hooked. It's no longer required for me, but I can't seem to let go.

Dancing in the Lu'au brings me waaaaay back to my days in Long Beach 7th ward surrounded by my big family of loving, caring, and supportive Polynesians. LB7th ward was the village that helped raise me. We would put on Lu'aus every now and then, and dancing here at BYU brings me back to those happy days, especially since because of my busy schedule this year I don't have the time to be a Living Legend (let's not talk about it). 
^^The entire section. Right when we were about to take this picture, a special needs girl came up and started talking excitedly to us. We invited her to be in the picture with us.
^^Brittany! So small world. Brittany was born & raised in Bellflower AKA where my family moved to, and her cousins the Suaavas were in the same ward as me growing up. Actually, the Suaavas were the family that dropped my family off at the airport when I was moving to Provo to attend BYU back in 2008.
^^Hna Toleafoa!!! We were MTC roommates. She served in Louisiana and when I was in Lake Charles, I always had this dream that I'd be at the border of my mission and she'd wave to me from the border of hers. :)
^^Right when I captured this moment, my heart started yearning BIG time for my LB7th family.  They don't know how much they mean to me!
^^mini Living Legends reunion. I love these people!
^^California born & bred. Brittany, Me, Tianalei!
JoJo, my favorite Tongan at BYU. We've been close friends since freshman year! I hadn't seen her since her farewell at the Poly ward almost 3 years ago! Love her to pieces. 

Lu'au solidified in my heart that I MUST visit LB7th when I go home for Christmas this year. 'Tis the season to visit family right?